TechRussian spy ships shadow Israel's latest submarine during trials

Russian spy ships shadow Israel's latest submarine during trials

One of the spy ships of Russia, project 864 Mieridian
One of the spy ships of Russia, project 864 Mieridian
Images source: © Licensor
Karolina Modzelewska

25 June 2024 14:03

Two Russian spy ships, "Admiral Sibirjakov" and "Vasily Tatischev," are likely gathering information about Israel's newest submarine, the INS Drakon, reports Naval News. The Russian vessels appeared near Kiel when the INS Drakon began its sea trials.

Naval News explains that sea trials are an extremely sensitive period for submarines, especially for prototypes and brand-new designs. Gathering intelligence on them is easier during this stage than after their deployment. This includes their acoustic signature and data on new weapons and onboard systems. This practice has been known and widely used by powers for years, particularly during the Cold War arms race.

Russian intelligence activities at sea

Reports from German media suggest that this tactic might currently be used by the Kremlin, which has targeted the newest Israeli submarine, the INS Drakon. This vessel, built by the German company ThyssenKrupp Marine Systems (TKMS) in Kiel, has likely begun its sea trials, catching the attention of the Russians. According to independent maritime intelligence analyst Droxford Maritim, the Russian intelligence ship "Admiral Sibirjakov" movements align with the potential route taken during the INS Drakon trials. "Vasily Tatischev" has also appeared near Kiel, suspected of conducting intelligence activities.

The Russian ship "Admiral Sibirjakov," an oceanographic research vessel of Project 865, is officially engaged in hydrographic and meteorological research activities. Naval News points out that the ship is equipped with equipment for measuring submarines' acoustic signatures. It regularly participates in sea trials of Russian Navy submarines in the Baltic. Moreover, the ship has been seen multiple times near strategically essential locations for other countries. For example, the "Admiral Sibirjakov" was active near the Balticconnector pipeline in the months leading up to the leak at the end of 2023 and near the Nord Stream 1 and Nord Stream 2 pipelines in June 2022.

"Vasily Tatischev," on the other hand, is a spy ship of Project 864 Meridian (NATO code-named Vishnya), adapted for gathering intelligence, including signal intelligence (SIGINT). It is equipped with devices capable of decoding opponent communications.

The ship and six sister ships of this class were built to order by the USSR at the Northern Shipyard named after the Heroes of Westerplatte in Gdansk between 1985 and 1988. Previously, the German newspaper "Kieler Nachrichten" reported that "Vasily Tatischev" was following NATO ships participating in the Baltic Operations manoeuvres. The ship is near Kiel, stationed outside German and Danish territorial waters.

Related content